By MG Siegler
At the risk of repeating myself for the millionth time, in many peoples’ minds, the Achilles’ heel of the iPhone is the network it’s on in the US: AT&T (NYSE:T). Since the day it was announced as being exclusive to that provider, people have been wondering one thing: How long until it’s on Verizon (NYSE:VZ)? Rumors have surfaced time and again about the possibility, but Monday brings perhaps the most concrete news yet that the two sides are talking.
The two sides are discussing the possibility of getting Verizon version of the iPhone ready for 2010, sources tell USA Today. There are likely two reasons it would take until next year. The first, is that Apple’s exclusive contract with AT&T runs through next year. The second is that a Verizon version would presumably have to be CDMA-ready, which means the innards of the iPhone would have to be slightly tweaked, as the current iPhone is GSM-only (which AT&T, and most other cell networks run on).
Perhaps now we know why it’s been reported recently that AT&T was pushing hard to get Apple to extend its exclusive deal another year, into 2011. Verizon is AT&T’s main rival in the US, and is actually larger. But Verizon lacks the one device that people are switching networks just to get. In announcing its most recent earnings, AT&T said that as many as 40% of all customers who sign up for iPhone contracts are new to AT&T — that is huge.
But here’s something to think about: A new iPhone is almost for sure going to launch sometime this summer. It will be AT&T only — and, you will presumably have to sign up for a new 2-year contract to get it (and certainly you will have to do that to get it for the subsidized price). If people know a Verizon iPhone is possible in 2010, will a lot of potential buyers hold off? I think so.
Hell, given the recent issues I’ve had with AT&T’s network, I’d consider not getting the new iPhone if Verizon was really a possibility for next year. But it’s still a big “if” at this point. Who knows, Apple would just be talking with Verizon (the company that originally spurned the iPhone) just to increase the pressure on AT&T to give them a sweeter deal. You know, negotiations 101.
But if Apple truly does envision the iPhone as a product that it wants to dominate the market with, it will need to get onto other networks eventually. It seems inevitable, but is 2010 the year?